Saturday, June 1, 2013

Castroville Time Trial "Race Report"

"Race report" is in quotes because Coachie sent me and a couple other kids (Alan and Jeff) out to do this 40k time trial not as a race, but as a benchmark for training for the rest of the summer. "You're not racing," she said, "it's just a hard effort." So I should ride as fast as I can for 25ish miles. "Yes." How is this not racing?? I don't know, but whatever. This was my first bike race - that is, a race where I ride my bike without swimming first or running after.

At Coachie's direction, Robert and I parked at Rio Medina and then, to warm up, we rode 6ish miles to the start, which is at the Iron Haus gym just outside of Castroville. The race is an out-and-back course from Castroville to about 6 miles past Rio Medina, and then you turn around and head back. For the most part, it's flat with a bunch of turns. I ride this road a lot in training, and it's always super windy. Today was no exception. The tell-tale flags were standing straight out. This means that there would be a tailwind on the way out and a headwind on the way back.

Robert and I saw Coachie on the way to Castroville (she rode from her house!) and rode in with her. We had preregistered for the event and we walked inside the gym to get set up to race. This race was sooooo not like a triathlon. It started at 8 am, with riders starting every minute. We arrived at 8 am (not 2+ hours early to set up in a transition area). We were given our start times (9:00 and 9:01 for Coachie and me, the times were given based on when you arrived) and a little number to pin on. That's it. No bodymarking, no stickers for your bike or helmet. No timing chip. No commemorative T-shirt.

The state time trial race is at the end of June, so apparently a lot of people were out racing today to practice for it. There were 70 or so riders altogether. Lots of disc wheels, aero helmets, skinsuits, and aerodynamic shoe booties. One thing is for sure - nobody shows up at a 40k tt to check it off their bucket list. This was not like your local 5K, triathlon, or even Ironman, where there's always a ton of people who are just there to finish. Everyone here was serious. They were all set up in the parking lot warming up on their trainers, or riding back and forth on the road.

Since we had a whole hour before our start time, we rolled over to the gas station in Castroville to get a snack. Coachie wouldn't let me have any donuts but she did let us take our photo in front of Haby's.

We ate our snack (peanut butter Snickers for me!), rode back to the start and got ready to ride. I was worried about rolling down off a ramp or having someone holding onto my bike and counting me down Tour de France style, but I didn't need to be concerned. The start line was a couple of cones next to a clock. One guy stood there yelling out people's numbers and sending them off one at a time. He offered to hold my bike for me and let me clip in to get started, but I declined. I was afraid I'd topple over in front of all these roadies.

When my turn came I was literally shaking with fear. Took off tentatively and couldn't clip in. Got down in my aerobars and let the tailwind carry me. My heart rate immediately shot up to the 170s, which is ridiculous for me. I was concerned but couldn't get it to go down. Kept on riding, got passed by Jeff after about 4 miles, kept on riding. Ok, don't let Alan pass you. The first 10k went by and it was fine. Kept on riding. Started to get tired in the places that I usually get tired, the long straightaways that have a beastly crosswind. Started to worry about what the way back would feel like. Reached the turnaround (a single cone set up in the middle of the road, with Jimmy Britton standing there with a flag yelling "turn around!") and I turned around.

This is when the headwind smacked me in the face and my 22 mph turned into 15. Argh. Oh well, keep fighting and try to stay over 20 mph average for the ride. I watched my average speed creep down as my heart rate went the end of the race it was 183 (seriously, I didn't think it was possible to reach that on my bike; I can barely hit that while running hill repeats), I felt like throwing up, my feet were hurting and I was watching my garmin like a hawk, willing it to say 24 miles. When it finally did, a peloton went by in the other direction shouting encouragement and saying "you're almost there!" I made a final push for the finish line (another couple of cones) and then kept riding after I passed it because I couldn't stop. Everything was shaking. I have never, ever worked so hard on my bike. It was awesome!

We stood around for a few minutes to get our results; I'm pretty sure I was dead last of the 6 or so women who raced today, with a time of 1:16:23, that's 19.5ish mph. Not too bad. But next time I want to go faster, of course! Loved the new experience, loved sharing it with Robert, who had his own adventure riding off to La Coste with a group while I was racing. Loved the simplicity of this really well-run event. I loved it so much that I asked Coachie if I can do it again in two weeks, and she said yes. Woo hoo!